What is a migration agent?
It is possible to employ migration agents to assist with a visa application to Australia. Such persons who provide immigration assistance are regulated by a governing authority called the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority. Only Australian Citizens and Australian Permanent Residents are eligible to apply to MARA for registration. Australian lawyers are immediately eligible to apply for registration whilst other applicants must hold a Graduate Certificate in Migration Law and Practice. Although, lawyers only make up a small number of registered Migration Agents, since 1998 more than 18% of the MARA’s sanction decisions have been against lawyer agents. The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) strongly recommends that applicants considering using an agent should employ the services of a registered migration agent.
To identify how many years an agent has been registered, the first two numbers of their seven digit registration number will show the year – the earliest registrations are from 1992. Only agents registered before 28 March 1998 will have a five digit number. In February 2009, former Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, announced the establishment of a new body to regulate migration agents after a review found dissatisfaction among consumers and potential conflicts of interest under the existing arrangements.
Senator Evans said that from 1 July, the new Office of Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA) will undertake the regulatory functions which have been operated under statutory self-regulation by the Migration Institute of Australia (MIA) since 1998.